Pubdate: Tue, 09 Oct 2007
Source: Middletown Journal, The (OH)
Copyright: 2007 Cox Newspapers, Inc.
Author: Josh Sweigart

Butler County Children Services


New Policy Was Initiated After Letter From Middletown Regional 
Hospital Social Workers.

HAMILTON - Butler County commissioners agreed Monday that Ohio does 
too little to ensure that children born to drug-addicted mothers are 
going home to a safe environment.

They passed a resolution directing Butler County Children Services to 
conduct a full investigation of the home life of any mother with 
illegal drugs in her system at childbirth.

State guidelines adopted in February call for an investigation only 
if drugs are found in the newborn's body, or if the child shows signs 
of withdrawal.

"National and local statistics show that substance abuse is a 
contributing factor in three out of four cases of child abuse," said 
Commissioner Charles Furmon. "This is simply common sense if we want 
to protect children."

The new policy was inspired by a letter from social workers Leslie 
Kurtz, Melissa Smith and Amy McKenna at Middletown Regional 
Hospital's Maternal Child Health Center. It expresses the frustration 
of doctors and social workers who have a hard time getting usable 
urine samples from newborns.

Of at least eight mothers who tested positive for drug use at 
delivery since February, only two were referred to Children Services 
because they had open cases, according to the letter.

As for the other six, "the health and well being of these infants is 
unknown to us," the letter stated.

"It appears that the current ... process is not protecting the 
children of drug users and is putting them in potential danger of 
abuse and neglect," the letter concluded.

Commissioners said a recently awarded $2.5 million federal grant will 
help implement the new rule through a program that helps treat 
drug-addicted parents and reunite them with their children.

The county sent a copy of its resolution to the Ohio Department of 
Job and Family Services, recommending the local rule be adopted statewide.
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